When one surveys the retail landscape and looks at how retailers today share data with their product supplier partners, one sees that retailers are all reinventing the wheel when it comes to this critical business process. And most of the wheels that they’re reinventing are not worth recreating at all.

In just about all cases, retailers are building custom reporting processes using spreadsheets, EDI data feeds (852 reports) or on-line reporting portals. And each retailer process produces a slightly different output which in turn causes product suppliers to reinvent their own wheels as they build systems and processes that synthesize and analyze the data so they can better measure, plan and execute their business.

That’s a lot of wheels being needlessly reinvented.

Which brings us to the topic of this week’s blog post: our latest best practices report on retail data sharing: The Bad, the Ugly, and the Good. What’s with the title, you ask? Per the above discussion about wheels, retail data sharing is a business process that today is fairly described by words such as ‘broken’, ‘cumbersome’, ‘messy’, ‘outdated’…’bad’ and ‘ugly’, in other words. As outlined in our report, against the key dimensions of

  • Accessibility
  • Actionability; and
  • Efficiency

the current paradigm of retail data sharing generally measures poorly. As opposed to many other B2B processes that have benefitted from improved communication, workflow and technology (think procurement or sourcing), retailer to product supplier data sharing is one that remains woefully behind the times and in desperate need of updating.

So where is the ‘good’ in this? The good is a view to the future, where the confluence of cloud computing, big data analytics and mobile technology is creating opportunities to streamline and supercharge the process of retail data sharing.

Retailers who are in the early stages of wanting to share data to better collaborate with their suppliers and who have never invested in their ‘wheel’ can now do so without big investments in people and technology. Similarly, retailers who already invented their ‘wheels’ and who are now realizing that these processes are not achieving the desired results or are too expensive and unwieldy to maintain can now easily replace their ‘bad, ugly’ wheel with a shiny, new one that yields improved business outcomes at a lower cost.

Now that’s a situation worth recreating.

Download our best practices report: Data Sharing: The Bad, the Ugly, and the Good.